Portrait of Thorvaldsen, 1810
Oil on canvas. 61,9 x 49,0 cm
Inventory number: B428
The German painter Rudolph Suhrlandt was in Rome 1808-1816. While there he painted the portraits of a number of artists belonging to the German artists’ colony, but also one of Thorvaldsen, who is here portrayed as a dynamic, self-assured figure. Nor had Thorvaldsen any reason to hide his light under a bushel. He had in 1805 been given the title of professor in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts at Copenhagen and in 1808 in the S. Luca Academy in Rome.
In contrast to the blind sculptured head impotently hidden in the corner of the painting, Thorvaldsen seems to be present, alert and energetic. He has his hand on the sculptured head, but seems almost to be holding it back and pushing it down as though to reveal the insignia of the Order of the Dannebrog that he had received the year before the picture was painted. Suhrlandt is in this way elegantly suggesting that sculpture – art – is Thorvaldsen’s starting point for ascending the social scale.
Thorvaldsen is holding in his hand the head of the Adonis statue, commissioned by Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and finished in 1808.